While the national polls still have the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team ranked sixth overall in the nation, a successful 2-0 road trip last weekend gave the Big Green sole possession of second place in the ECAC. After knocking off Empire State rivals Cornell and St. Lawrence 5-2 and 6-1 respectively, the Big Green will host the battle for first place in the conference at Thompson Arena this Saturday against the Brown Bears. While the Bears are ranked number one in the national polls, Dartmouth has consistently played at the top of its game for the past seven contests; which has resulted in a seven game win streak for the Green. To take over first place on Saturday, Dartmouth has to use the same tools that made them so lethal last weekend.
At Cornell, there was a lot of end to end hockey in the first few minutes. At 2:30 into the first period, co-captain Kristina Guarino '01 made a nice pass to Liz Macri '01 who was not part the traffic that had built up in front of Big Red goaltender Elizabeth Connelly. Macri fired a shot through traffic and the screen of players prevented any chance Connelly had to make the save.
With Macri's goal putting Dartmouth up 1-0, the Big Green had some breathing room to be a bit more aggressive on offense. Then the momentum shifted. Lindsay Murao scored on a quick shot from the point that went right by a screened Dartmouth goaltender Amy Ferguson '03. After tying the game at 1-1, Cornell showed a strong presence in the Dartmouth zone for the next three minutes.
Cornell entered the second period with a little too much intensity. That only lasted about 35 seconds, when Cornell Eva Nahorniak went to the box for a holding penalty. Third time was a charm of the Big Green power play that afternoon. With some smooth passing, Kristin King '02 passed out to sophomore Kim McCullough at the point. McCullough slid the puck to Macri at the other side of the blue line. For the second time that afternoon Liz Macri fired true and Dartmouth was up 2-1.
The Big Red would not give in however, as they come back to tie the score again. The puck accidently trickled in front of the crease where Cornell's Lindsay Muaro pounced on the puck and got her second goal of the game.
The second period would end tied at 2-2 and despite the period not being the best for Dartmouth, they still were getting quality scoring chances.
At 4:10 into the final period, freshman Carly Haggard would get the puck in her own zone and skate coast-to-coast to backhand a shot into the Cornell goal for a 3-1 lead.
Carly Haggard would net an insurance goal with 7:40 left in the game; utilizing the same backhand shot that broke the 2-2 tie earlier in the period.
Now nursing a 4-2 lead, Dartmouth needed little more than to run out the clock. Kristin King put the final nail in the Red's coffin. King's shot from the slot with 1:50 left in the game found the back of the net and Dartmouth was victorious for the sixth straight time.
St. Lawrence wouldn't prove to be a much different affair. A Guarino and Lauren Trottier '01 two on none breakaway would burn Emily Stein halfway through the first period as a quick pass to Trottier allowed her to slide the puck in for a 1-0 lead.
Stacy Boudrias scored 55 seconds into the second period on a laser from beyond the face-off circle. The shot was beautifully aimed for the upper corner of the net and junior goalie Meghan Cahill barely got a look at it before the red light was on.
The next eight minutes of hockey were intense. St. Lawrence, who fell to the Big Green in Hanover on November 5 wanted to exact revenge. While they had a few quality chances from point blank rage. Cahill was up to the task. She would not let another puck by her all afternoon.
Just about eight minutes after the tying goal by Boudrias, Dartmouth opened the floodgates. Carolyn Steele '03 fired a slap-shot from just inside the blue-line to give Dartmouth the lead, 2-1. On the ensuing face-off at center ice, Dartmouth dumped the puck into the Saints zone. The puck slid dangerously in front of the net to a waiting Jennifer Wiehn '01. Wiehn Banged the puck home from a few feet out and just like that, Dartmouth led 3-1.
Sadly for the Saints, it wasn't over. Less than a minute later, a crisp passing sequence from Correne Bredin '02 to Carly Haggard found Kim McCullough '02 wide open in the slot. Haggard instantly passed to McCullough who shot the puck past Emily Stein. Dartmouth now led 4-1.
Dartmouth converted again when Correne Bredin redirected a Liz Macri shot from just beyond the top face-off circle. The period would end with Dartmouth comfortably leading 5-1.
St. Lawrence appeared to support new goaltender Caryn Ungewitter in goal more than Stein. Finally, the Saints were able to keep the Big Green pretty quiet for most of the period. Ungewitter was beaten once at the 17:03 mark on a shot by Jennifer Wiehn. Dartmouth drove out of Canton, New York that evening with a 6-1 victory and a seven game win streak.
The date is set, the battle lines have been drawn. Dartmouth will battle for first place in the ECAC on Sunday at Thompson Arena. What would be a better gift to the college for winter carnival weekend than a first place team? The way this winter season has been going, I can't think of one.